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NBA Scout Praises Ulis, Crushes Skal, Optimistic for Murray

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As it is every year, the UK-UL matchup was swarming with NBA scouts. You’ll find scouts from almost every NBA team in attendance, from Miami to Sacramento. Yesterday wasn’t any different, with a lot of potential draft picks in action.

Adam Zagoria, writing for, recently shared what one NBA scout had to say about 3 current Wildcats.  Some of the scout’s comments were good, others were brutally honest.

When discussing Tyler Ulis, the NBA scout praised what he could do given his small size.

“Yes he can [play in the NBA] and he will be drafted,” said the scout who attended Kentucky’s 75-73 win over Louisville at Rupp Arena. “The question is where. He’s a first-round talent and he’s got middle-school size. He’s the smartest player [on Kentucky], he’s the most highly skilled, he has the best understanding of how to play. He’s a coach on the floor. He loves the big stage. He had 21 points, he had 8 assists, 1 turnover. He carried Big Blue Nation on his little 5-foot-9 shoulders.”

Then came his assessment of Skal Labissiere, which was brutally honest following another disappointing game. 

“Big Skal, no strength, no toughness, no game,” the scout said. “Comes off the bench, plays 10 minutes, had 2 points, 3 rebounds, 0-for-3 from the floor. Shot an air ball on an easy hook. He’s not going to play anymore for Kentucky, I don’t think. There’s nothing he could do. The Louisville big men are mediocre at best. Truth be told, they’re below mediocre. He couldn’t do nothing with them. He’s a fraud. The thing is going the other way fast.”

When Zagoria mentioned to the NBA scout that Skal was still projected as the 5th pick in next year’s NBA Draft:

“No. 5, he’s not No. 1, he’s not No. 5, he’s not No. 51. That’s a joke.”

Then he added:

“You gotta see kids play against big-time college athletes and then you can make some kind of assessment. This is Rupp Arena, sold out, this is religious tribal warfare. It’s one of the great rivalries in college basketball and if the kid didn’t have a big name, he wouldn’t even have played because he didn’t deserve to play. That’s my opinion.”

Lastly, the scout mentioned Jamal Murray. He mostly noted what Murray continues to do wrong, but remains optimistic that he’ll learn with more time:

“Murray has strength, Murray has a chance to be a decent player. He has a lot to learn. If he’s going to be taken in the first round it’s hard to pass on that money.”

What are your thoughts on this NBA scout’s opinions? Was he being too harsh on Skal, or just giving the honest truth?

You can read the remainder of Zagoria’s conversation with the scout by following this link to 

Article written by Kory Henry

"We will kick, pass, and run, til the battle is won!" Bleeding blue since 1990. @KoryHenryKSR

34 Comments for NBA Scout Praises Ulis, Crushes Skal, Optimistic for Murray

  1. syrin23
    1:32 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    Pretty much straight on. I want to know what he thinks of Poythress.

  2. Long Dong Silver
    1:35 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    It’s hard to argue with any of that.

  3. Mathlete
    1:45 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    Skal reminds me WCS when he first got here. He’s extremely athletic and raw, obviously has a ton of upside but a lot to learn about how to play better than AAU level competition. He needs a year (or two) of coaching and strength training before he’s NBA ready. Nothing wrong with needing to develop, he’s only been playing a couple of years unlike most of the rest of the team.

  4. The Rest of the story
    1:48 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    His comments were right on about Skal, a college player who would have trouble in a competitive high school environment. He has a really long way to go and he would do a disservice to himself to even think of NBA in 2 or more years.

  5. Catlogic15
    2:05 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    I don’t think he was brutally honest. Just honest.
    It’s watching Skal play right now that is brutal.

  6. rainman
    2:16 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    I’m sure these people know more than I ever will, but even I know better than to evaluate someone on ONE performance! If you rate them on this game, they are correct, but we’ve seen the potential in Skal, and it’s my opinion he’s just being asked to do things he’s never done before! Struggling, an understatement, but if anyone can turn him around, it’s Cal.
    IMO Murry’s fixes are much easier, he just has to learn when to drive the middle, and when to pull up! Not that atypical of any freshman!
    Ulis, what can be said that hasn’t already been said! This game has the intangebles that just can’t be taught, not to mention the heart of a LION! Whoever passes on this kid will kick themselves in the butt!

  7. poppycat
    2:16 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    Given the same opportunity and pt. Humphries would be the better player.

  8. rainman
    2:18 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    BTW, I think the bigger question is, doesn Cal try and force feed Skal to us, or let him come along at his own pace? I prefer the later!

    • mobile2
      3:15 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

      I’ve been worried about that but yesterday at least showed that Cal is willing to put the team above Skal’s NBA future…for now at least.

    • WeareBBN
      7:17 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

      I am worried about that as well, cost us a title last year doing that. Skal has skills just has not had the games to learn and teaching/in game learning at levels prior to college. Hard to come to UK and get that but hopefully having practices against top players like we have, and will have next year, can speed up the learning process for him. Cal says he does what is best for the kid and this one will need at least 2 years so hopefully the kid will make the right choice to stay. Sounds like the NBA might make that choice for him.

  9. 2thepoint
    3:00 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    Skal will be a big time player, but he has little strength so next year will see a different player. I think the scout is a bad scout if he can’t see down the road a couplevof years. So my Scout rating on him is a 52!

  10. mobile2
    3:14 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    The truth is the truth. I fully believe that Skal and his handlers pulled the wool over on Cal this time. Skal is flat out terrible right now and he’s a multi year project to be a top tier college player not to mention being anywhere near ready for the NBA. Fraud might be the correct term in this case. Now, if he’s willing to stay here and learn and work that’s one thing but…yeah, no…I don’t see it.

    Prediction: he gets less and less PT and transfers at end of season. Hopefully I’m wrong but I’m laying it on the line right now: he’s nowhere near NBA draft this year and transfers out at the end of the season because he’ll be unhappy with lack of PT…and he ain’t taking playing time from the studs coming in next year along with Humphries and Winyard (sp?).

    Cal is right too, that scouts or others shouldn’t be calling the kid names but the scout has to call it like he sees it. And Skal is a fraud.

    • theSkinny81
      3:22 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

      Way to support the kid who chose to wear blue….

    • mobile2
      4:22 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

      I don’t run my opinion through a blue filter. He is what he is and I think what I think based on what I’m seeing.

      I don’t wish a young kid any ill will but right now he has no clue what he’s doing on the court and for the team that’s a problem that has to be addressed and right now he’s awful and the whole “No. 1 pick” nonsense needs to be stopped right now because he has no business thinking of the NBA.

      I totally believe his handlers are to blame for the self-generated hype that was picked up by the recruiting engine and perpetuated. He’s played against no competition for too long to be considered a top tier player.

      Honest thoughts. That’s all.

    • BigBlueBoom
      6:17 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

      Lol. Are you serious about “pulled the wool” over on Cal? How exactly does that happen? Do you think Cal offered this guy a scholarship based on how mixed tapes? Cal does his homework. No one pulled the wool on Cal. Perhaps Cal got it wrong this time. I think Skal can still be a really good player. But either way, no wool was pulled… Insert immature joke here

    • BigBlueBoom
      6:19 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

      *his mixed tapes, not how

  11. Lip Man 1
    3:17 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    He’s being honest something that people don’t seem to want to hear today. And it’s pretty clear he’s going to be least two more seasons at UK and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  12. Loserville Hater
    3:26 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    I wouldn’t care to wait to see Skal build strength and develop his game…..all kids go through that….he’s just not ready right now. What I am not willing to wait for is heart and attitude….and Skal has even less of that than he does strength and game. Forget Skal…play Issac and lets move on.

  13. Bobbum Man
    3:52 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    This is the risk we take with the one and done system. They’re not all gonna be home runs. We’ve been pretty fortunate so far. But I do think he can develop into a very nice player given time, but he’s got to want it, he’s got to forget about all the hype pumped into his head over the last year or two cause that’s gone now. Time to start over and earn it. Good thing is if we bring him back it’s a little security in case we don’t land the big man next year (can’t recall his name). I don’t like the comparisons to WCS either, WCS still has freakish athletic ability and speed and still rebounded and busted his butt. None of which skal is doing so far, hope for the best for him, I think it’s all just more than he anticipated and he was thinking it was gonna be an easy ride to the nba

  14. LeitchfieldAlex
    4:07 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    Yes I do agree with the NBA scout right now. But I think it will take some time to develop Skal. But he is worth waiting on just hope Skal is willing also. Yes play Izak more until Skal comes around. Also play Tai Wynward some. Good luck and Go BLUE !!

    4:18 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    He is just so weak, I mean they just take the ball away from him with the greatest of ease. He can’t hold position, but the thing that bugs me the most is his lack of awareness. Sometimes the ball is right next to him and he doesn’t have a clue. Like the UCLA game when Tyler shoved him! Ball was right next to him, he should of got the ball. If the other team comes with a late double team, 9/10 they’ll take it from him. He’s NOT better than Humphries.

    • Bobbum Man
      4:20 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

      Or the blocks he has 0 chance of getting yet jumps up at leaving his man for an easy offensive rebound and put back. Makes me want to throw my remote at the tv

  16. Pastor Bob
    4:31 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    The truth is that strength will come with age, learning to play can be taught. For a big man it takes more time. But to have the offensive skill set that Skal Has….. that is special. Willie did not and does not have that offensive skill. Willie is special in his skill set, so is Skal. By all accounts this is a very sensitive young man who has had life throw some pretty hard punches at him. He has been rescued from those punches up till now. Cal is now teaching him how to fight and overcome. I like what I saw against the Cards. He fought! He will be just fine, He can learn now. Cal first teaches character, then basketball. I would have thought all you basketball experts would know that.

      7:45 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

      What good is that offensive skill when he can’t seal his man so they can make a entry pass and feed him? You heard what the scout said yesterday’s game “this is religious tribal warfare”. Yet he still doesn’t bring it, against not so talented bigs. You saw fight? What game were you watching? I saw him get picked out muscled for and air ball 2 foot hook shots. It was so bad Cal could only play him 10 minutes!

    4:42 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    No way is Skal NBA ready. WCS was more NBA ready as a Freshman. I would love to see Skal stay for another year, but IMHO he’s gone at the end of this season either to test the NBA waters or transferring schools.

    • KatsKlaws
      11:22 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

      This is exactly my point..ppl keep saying wait for him to develop….lol he won’t be here to “develop” ….it’s either NBA or transfer …..he isn’t sticking around like WCS

  18. catheaven
    5:10 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    KSR: CAN WE GET A PHOTO UP OF THE EPIC SHOT OF ULIS STANDING BEHIND THE U OF L PLAYER SHOOTING HIS FREE THROWS UNDERHANDED? Tyler’s face was a classic “wtf” expression. Almost as good as the classic photo of Ulis last year with the blood streaming down the side of his face.

  19. bussell9752
    5:12 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    For those of you that say he is a fraud and his handlers over hyped him you’re stupid. This kid played in top 100 camps and all over the AAU circuit against future NBA players and was ranked nationally by the likes of ESPN, Scout, 24/7 and Bleacher Report. Those people who ranked him get paid to do that exact job which is evaluate high school talent and position them accordingly. He is no fluke as a player and he is very skilled. Let’s not forget he is 6’11 with pro level footwork. Does he need to gain weight? Yes. Is he having trouble adjusting to the pace of play at this level? Yes. Should we be this quick to write him off? No. Sometimes it takes players time to develope. As fans of the greatest college basketball program in the world it’s our job to be patient and let cal do what he gets paid to do and that is develope talent that HE evaluated and selected to come represent our wonderful university. He wouldn’t be here if he couldn’t play folks… Go CATS.

  20. wes908
    7:17 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    I’ve been a wildcat fan as long as Coach cal has been there and I can say the wool has never been pulled over his eyes. The NBA scout was honest, but I think Skal biggest problem might just be how bad he wants to play basketball. Skal gets bullied by anyone. A Guard can defend him long as he’s willing to fight him for position. He has no fight. It’s just lack of toughness and Cal trying to make him a low post player compared to a Pick and roll player. As we saw last game he got away from the dribble drive and back to the ball screens and it worked for Skal. He’s a elite talent 7ft with a nice touch is a lottery pick any year . But it hurts to say we can win with him in the game. Same way we can’t win with Isaiah playing that 3rd guard cause he cannot shot the ball and is better off being Ulis back up so he can distribute and Jamal never coming out when he’s struggling . I’m use to cal with the short rope . The DMC Terrence Jones treatment. mess up come out. It makes you value opportunities and that what Murray has to learn. But last game I felt like Skal was more happier not having to bang and cold rome free for rebounds and he has to learn to stop jumping at everything . We can’t win with all those mistake .

    • UK Big Board Update
      7:26 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

      Did you ever play basketball, either parks and rec or high school/college teams?

  21. bgblue
    8:26 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    It is all his mentality. He has size and skill but not strong enough mentality. He needs to stay 1 or 2 more years. That is nothing wrong with it. If anybody can develop players with raw skill with good heart, that is Cal. Cal would not have taken him if there is no hope. He is just a long term project rather than one and done. He can stay and develop for 2 or 3 more years.

  22. bballdoc
    10:44 pm December 27, 2015 Permalink

    As of today, Skal looks like a 4 year college player. He will be effective as a junior and very good as a senior. Here at UK, better players will probably be recruited who will take some or even a lot of his playing time. If he goes pro without achieving at least some success here, he would almost certainly go undrafted.

  23. Capurnicus
    8:12 am December 28, 2015 Permalink

    No reason for name calling.. His assessment of Skal’s current game is correct though. I figure he is gonna be a 3 year guy, as it’s going to be tough for him to see the floor much with the big guys we have coming in next year. All that being said… there is nothing wrong with being a 3 or 4 year guy.